Laurel Burkbauer, affectionately known as "Coach B" to her students, joined the Middle School faculty last year. In her first year at Friends' Central, Laurel taught eighth grade English. This year, she is teaching English to both seventh and eighth grade students, and over the summer, Laurel received a summer stipend to further develop the seventh grade curriculum as a whole, which included a thorough review of the literature selections.
One challenge for Laurel to consider was whether the texts were vertically integrated and if they supported the analytical skills being taught in the literature program. Laurel is a passionate reader and book collector who found that her own early interest in science fiction and fantasy served as a path to loving Literature (with a capital L). With this in mind, she also looked at the books being taught and considered the balance of literature that would engage seventh graders with diverse taste in books while teaching them the skills they'll need in eighth grade.
Based on all of these factors, Laurel added Ender's Game and March, to be paired with Brown Girl Dreaming, which she is reintroducing to the 7th grade's reading list. March has special meaning for Laurel as she met John Lewis as an 11th grader studying civil rights and walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Laurel says she is really looking forward to seeing the seventh graders "recognize this literature as a vehicle for exciting and rich class discussions."
As she reflected on Laurel's summer work, Middle School Principal Alexa Quinn said, "I am so grateful to Laurel for her time and effort spent bringing her fresh eyes and ideas to the seventh grade English curriculum. Laurel thoughtfully mapped out grammar, vocabulary, writing skills and focuses, assignments and reading selections. I know our students - and other teachers - will benefit from the work she did as students hone their skills while reading and writing about great literature."
A Duke University graduate with a BA in English and an MA in teaching English, Laurel previously taught World and American Literature at Northern High School in Durham, NC, and seventh grade English at a summer academic enrichment program before moving to Philadelphia. We are lucky to have Laurel as a member of the outstanding faculty at FCS!